After stealing our hearts as Noel Crane on The WB's "Felicity" back in the day, Scott Foley is an actor you can't help but root for. But as we discovered in the closing minutes of last week's "Scandal," Foley's latest character is far more enigmatic (and potentially dangerous) than any of us could've predicted; typical of evil genius Shonda Rhimes to so thoroughly subvert our expectations.
Earlier this week, HuffPost TV caught up with Foley to glean as much intel as we could about his mysterious new character, Jake Ballard, and whether his creepy surveillance of Olivia (Kerry Washington) could possibly be for the greater good ...
What can you tell us about this week's episode?
Oh goodness, it's going to be a short conversation. [Laughs.] I can tell you that the last time we saw Jake and Olivia, Jake had been watching Olivia -- he had somehow installed cameras in her apartment … very scandalous! But when we learned that, she had called Jake to accept his invitation to dinner, so the next time we see them, they're going to be on a date. I think Jake is much more excited about this date than Olivia is; she's trying to keep a little more professional and he's taking it a little more personally and I think that's going to be a struggle for her and for him respectively. That's what I can tease. [Laughs.]
Generally, when the show introduces these mysteries, it takes a while for things to resolve themselves -- how long will it be before Jake's plans start to become clearer?
I wish I knew! [Laughs.] I'm in the process of shooting my fourth episode, and I'm no clearer about it, but I hope professionally that it's going to take a hell of a long time for us to figure out what's going on. [Laughs.] I think that their relationship will progress, as will the intrigue as to who hired Jake -- because he's definitely not working alone. He did this under the guise of someone else telling him to do so; he did this because he was hired to to do so, and I think he's also stepping out of bounds a little bit by making it personal. I think the longer that can be played out, the more interesting it is and I think the more questions will be asked and answered.
You touched on the fact that he's making it personal -- how much of his relationship with Olivia is business for Jake, and how much is going to start blurring the line into pleasure?
Gosh, that's an interesting question. I think Jake is very taken with Olivia, as anybody would be. I think even though maybe it began as a professional responsibility for him, he's making it much more of a personal quest. I think any time you're interested in a woman, you do whatever the hell you can to get her to pay attention to you. And I think for her, there's definitely a personal interest, although she's fighting that urge ... As she said to Edison the last time she saw him -- she's not looking for the white picket fence and the kids, she's looking for something more dangerous and exciting and she's not sure if she can have it. I think, even though she has new feelings for Jake, she's trying to keep herself as distant from him as possible.
She sure can pick 'em.
She sure can pick 'em, man -- she's got a problem, doesn't she?
How would Jake describe his motives in spying on Olivia -- would he say that they're for the greater good?
Jake's a military man, he's a Navy officer, has been all his life, so I think he's given an order and he takes it, and he believes that what he's doing is definitely for the greater good. If it comes up the chain of command and lands on his desk, he's doing A: what he's been told to do, and B: he believes it is for the greater good. But that being said, I think he knows he's taking a bit of a risk by interacting with her on a personal level. I can't say I'm 100 percent certain, but my belief as an actor is, I don't believe in any way would the people who hired him be okay with him coming in contact with her one-on-one.
Have you had the chance to interact with any other members of Olivia Pope and Associates thus far?
It's been and me and Kerry 100 percent so far -- which is not a bad thing either, by the way. I'm a very fortunate man. They do a table read every week, so I've been lucky enough to meet and interact with everybody, not on screen or on camera, but I've got to know them off-camera and they're all great and they're all professional, all fantastic people, all love their jobs. But so far, all I can tell you is that I've worked with Kerry.
Would you say that Olivia's just a small pawn in Jake's larger scheme, or is she the key piece of the puzzle for him?
That's a great question, I'm not quite sure how to answer it because I'm not privy to the information that the writers are. But personally I think that maybe it's the other way around and Jake doesn't know it; maybe Jake is a pawn in the larger scheme of things for Olivia -- I think I can say that and not get in any trouble.
What's been the most shocking thing about working on "Scandal" so far?
For me, I've never been on a show in this viral, social media age, that is so beloved, so talked about, so tweeted about. They do this live-tweeting whenever the show is on on Thursday night, the cast with the fans, and the amount of tweets per minute, it's something like 10,000 tweets per minute for "Scandal." They asked me to tweet, they asked me to interact with the fans and do it with the cast, and I was blown away at the amount of people, the amount of questions, the amount of love and hate and vitriol and passion that fans have for this show. So to be able to see that firsthand … I've done shows before that were popular and people were fans of and I'd see them on the streets or at airports and they'd be very receptive and responsive and have opinions of it, but to see it firsthand and to be a part of it has been the most surprising for me. People love this show and they're passionate about the characters and the stories and the intrigue and the scandal, and I'm happy to be a part of it.
"Scandal" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.
Do you trust Jake's motives, or do you think Olivia should keep him at a distance? Who do you think he's working for? Weigh in below!